On Sunday, May 17th, 2009, the life and legacy of Malcolm X was commemorated in celebration of his 84th birthday at the first annual Malcolm X Day Hip-Hop Fest at Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center. The event, keynoted by former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and recently released activist Gerald Hankerson, was the only one in Martin Luther King Jr. County that honored the often misunderstood and misrepresented human rights leader. Almost 300 people from Seattle to Oakland and all points in between came out to get down with a healthy dose of education, entertainment, and political empowerment.This free, all-day, all-ages event featured speakers, workshops, food, live performances, networking, and children’s activities that lit up the corner of 24th Ave & Spring Street in Seattle’s Central District.
Malcolm X’s teachings provided the blueprint for three break-out work sessions that kicked the day off. Facilitators used his themes of community self-empowerment through education, positive service, and political and economic awareness to guide discussions on local issues such as youth violence prevention, media justice, the upcoming city and county elections. “Malcolm X provided invaluable jewels by letting us know: ‘We must understand the politics of our community and we must know what politics are supposed to produce,” said event visionary Wyking, “We must know what part politics play in our lives, and until we become politically mature, we will always be mislead, lead astray, or deceived .”
The education workshop, facilitated by Monika Mathews of the NIA center, focused community-based education including home schooling and learning centers with culturally relevant learning environments. The economics workshop, facilitated by Shamako Noble of the Hip Hop Congress and Khep Ra Ptah of the Got Green Project layed out a Hip-Hop cluster economic model that includes revenue streams from entertainment, education/youth programs and non-profit/community development sectors and also addressed the opportunities to participate in the Green Economy as a pathway out of poverty.
The politics workshop lead by Omari Tahir and Kenyatto Amen of the Hip Hop Coffee Shop framed politics as “decision making” and the theme was “either you’re at the table eating…or you are on the menu to be eaten.” Participants worked on practical strategies for improving political leverage in the community, and next steps, including canvassing the community, holding candidate forums so that candidates can speak directly to our issues, and running our own candidates to represent our interests.
Gerald Hankerson, highlighted the power of an organized voting bloc in close elections, a theme that Malcolm X spoke on in his famous “Ballot or The Bullet” speech. He also reminded the crowd that we can’t forget the members of our community that are still incarcerated and must create opportunities for them to be productive when they come back to the community namely access to housing and jobs. The keynote was given by former congresswoman and human rights advocate Cynthia McKinney. McKinney reported on her humanitarian aid trip to Gaza to deliver medical supplies in which her boat was attacked and nearly sunk by Israeli warships. She emphasized the importance of staying engaged in shaping our world, and that it can’t be taken on face value that people who may look like you will represent your interests.
Hip Hop artists from Seattle, Portland and the bay area came out to rep for Malcolm, healing and building the hood, including Lil T-Kid Maine One(Self Tightld), De.Ale of DMS fame, Maineak B of Stahi Bros, Jus Moni, Black Stax (Silent Lambs Project feat. Felicia Loud), M.Famous, Black Aries (Yirim Seck & LaRue), K.H.M.E.T., Thee Satisfaction, Razpy feat. Angel Mitchell, Shamako Noble, Ouwar Arunga, Seazonz (Oakland/Green For All) and even young Jah Jigga got up and represented for the children. Representatives from South Seattle Community College Black Student Union, Global Fam of Portland, Million Family Task Force of Portland, L.I.F.E. program (Tacoma), 206 Zulu, B-Girl Media, Hidmo, Block Teamsters Union, Common Ground, were present, and even mayoral candidate James Donaldson showed up too.
Photos for this article were pulled from the Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center Facebook Group. Click on the links below for video of the event edited by Notyer Average!
Malcolm X Hip Hop Conference Pt. 1
Malcolm X Hip Hop Conference Pt. 2
Malcolm X Hip Hop Conference Pt. 3
Malcolm X Hip Hop Conference Pt. 4